The time may have come for the Chief Justice to make a decision.
The recent bank certifications of his over P31 MM in bank deposits (excluding his dollar accounts and whatever else) as of end 2010 versus the P3.5 MM he reported may just have raised the wall of evidence to unscalable heights. The information provides a clarity previously missing in the dubious accounting, allegedly undervalued and unreported properties and suspicious discounts on a penthouse. Cold cash has a way of speaking to the public, unfettered by smoke and mirrors on one side and a stuttering narrative on the other. The Prosecution’s story is taking form.
The Defense should be allowed to air its side at the earliest time. The Senate-Judges might consider allowing it to do so now rather than at the end of the seven other charges as currently provided by the rules. The CJ should be permitted to erase the long shadow cast by the bank information that could prejudice the other Articles.
The CJ has been accused of corruption, culpable violation of the Constitution, betrayal of the public trust and other high crimes. Some of the offenses have been extended to his wife.
In his mind the manner of the impeachment is questionable, crass and ill-intentioned. He is convinced 188 Congressmen signed the Impeachment Articles in a fashion and a time that suggests they neither deliberated, verified nor even read them as provided in the Constitution. He was arguably deprived of due process.
He is not the only one to believe so. A number of well-meaning practitioners volunteered at no compensation to argue his cause. These men and women have taken leave of their livelihood and family and suffered comments from friends, colleagues and clients for assuming the cudgel; not understanding the depth of their conviction and the gravity of the charges that were being laid before the CJ. At stake, they feel, is the essence of democracy and the constitutional safeguards that make it possible.
Corona’s family has suffered and will continue to do so long after the smoke has cleared and people have returned to their daily lives. They will have to live with the legacy, its loneliness and its permanence.
The recent evidence is a game changer and there will be more to follow but I have not said anything the CJ does not already know.
What I come here for is not in judgment but in appeal, a prayer on behalf of the nation and perhaps others who love and respect him but are unsure how to present themselves.
The appeal is for the CJ to consider stepping down.
The impeachment could take its course but this will be painful to the country, to the institution he so professes to love, and to his friends and cherished ones.
The trial is sapping the resources and focus of the Senate at a time when it should be addressing the vital needs of the nation. The earthquake in the South is a reminder that events will not wait for the Court’s judgment.
The trial is dividing the Republic as well as the institutions that make us who we are, a free people. The Supreme Court has and will be pitted against the Impeachment Court in territory heretofore untravelled.
The trial is taking a toll on his family. Just as he seeks to protect them, so do they wish to shield him from ignominy. They must suffer seeing him diminished.
There are his supporters especially those who stand with him in the courtroom. As the evidence, right or wrong, grows they will entertain doubts as well as be pressured to abandon the quest. Will the CJ hold them to their commitment made at a different time and circumstance?
The CJ’s victory however honorable could be pyrrhic. His return to the Court as its leader would be awkward if not untenable to the public. It is possible he intends to resign after an acquittal but the damage will have been done.
The CJ is ultimately accountable only to God, to himself and to the people in some order. To the first two only he and his conscience know what is. But to the people, he is answerable to their trust and right now, rightly or wrongly, that trust is seemingly not there.
The man was aware that the journey would be arduous but this is the price he may have agreed to pay to defend the institution he leads. There is honor in this.
But is the cause indeed what it is?
Might you, sir, not serve an equal calling if you were to give of yourself in the interest of the country? It would not be an inference of wrongdoing but a humble sublimation to the collective good.
This and the anguish to his family must weigh heavily on his mind.
There is a time to cut and to cut clean. Respectfully, that time perhaps has come.